We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Caetano Veloso


Not your father’s soundtrack album. Not even your father’s soundtrack album to Black Orpheus, that supremely goofy, dead-serious, eroticized treatment of the Greek myth transposed to Carnaval-time Brazil for a generation of agape U.S. art-film fans. The tracks on this recording provide the aural impetus for Carlos Digues’ remake of Marcel Camus’ 1958 film—which would be like bringing beads to Rio if anyone other than neo-bossa nova superstar Caetano Veloso had been tapped for this project; the original featured a terrific score. Veloso pounds out of the gate with “O Enredo de Orfeu (Historia do Carnaval Carioca),” with seemingly hundreds of drums slamming in almost equal time—it’s the overlap that’s exhilarating—while singers shout and bellow for percussion (“You got it!”). The lilting “Sou Voce” is classic bossa nova, sloe-eyed and seductive, with Toni Garrido’s sly vocals. Veloso himself sings “Os Cinco Bailes da Historia do Rio,” all tenderness and slight nasality; its deceptive leisureliness blossoms into a swaying samba on acoustic guitar. The new tunes intersect seemlessly with those preserved from the original soundtrack—the strummed “Manha do Carnavale”; a gentle “A Felicidade,” awkwardly sung by Maria Luiza Jobim; and the orchestral ballad “Se Todos Fossem Iguais a Voce” (the latter two by Tom Jobim and Orfeu do Conceicao playwright Vinicius de Morase). The recording’s second half consists of orchestral numbers, each singularly evocative, calling up images of blooming flowers and observant yellow moons (with “Lua, Lua, Lua,” which Veloso wrote for Virginia Rodrigues), sinister slums, and swooning, hothouse love.—Arion Berger